What is Printer and Its Types

What is Printer and Its Types Leave a comment

If you are looking for information about the printer and its types. You are at the right place, In this article, we are gonna go through everything there is to know about the printer machine and its uses. Here you will be on a journey from the history of printer machines to its uses in the modern day of the 21st century. Without further ado, let’s start the article.

Printer Definition

A printer is a device that helps us to make hard copies out of computer data. If you are not a tech-savvy person, then all of this will sound weird to you. What happens is, When you create a text file on a computer, you will have plenty of formatting options to choose from.

A printer’s job is to make that text file come to life by printing on a paper. When it comes to the powerful and essential output device ever used on a computer. A printer takes first place since it provides so much value to the user. Nowadays it is common to have a printer, as it is considered to be one of the most used peripherals to have with a computer.

If you ever go to the bank or any place where they have a computer, they will have a printer sitting right next to them. The reason why you are seeing that a lot in the workplace, is because making a hard copy is always a much more reliable option than to store everything on the computer.

There will be times when you lose data on your computer out of the blue. If you have everything stored on the computer, then you are gonna feel the loss but if you made a backup on every text related file on a hard copy. Then you wouldn’t feel any loss, the printer just does exactly that, it will help you backup every text and image related document.

History of Printer

Let’s shed some light on the history of the printer so we will get a better understanding of the changes that have happened to the machine.


It was made by Charles Babbage, the mind behind the automatic mechanical calculator or as it is known as the Difference Engine. It wasn’t technically a printer but it was more of a working model.

1858 –

Lord Kelvininvented the world’s first telegraph machine. It was called Syphon Recorder. The machine used ink to convert telegraph signals to lines.

1938 –

No technology would be at the state as they are now without a solid foundation. In the year 1938 when a man named Chester Carlson created a dry printing process. He called the process electrophotography, or as you know it as Xerox. Every printing machine used Xerox as the foundation to build upon, now they are much faster than what they used to be and much more effective.

1953 –

1953 was the year when the world finally saw its first high-speed printer. It was developed by Remington-Ran. The printer was compatible with the Univac computer.

1969 –

The research for the first laser printer or as it was known as EARS began.

1971 –

In the month of November of 1971, EARS was completed. Later engineer Gary Starkweather added a laser beam to the laser printer.

1976 – 1977

Here we see the rise of famous printing systems in the computer market. This is the phase where we saw The Xerox 9700, the very first IBM 3800, and Desk Jet inkjet printers.

1976 is the year where the world saw its very first IBM 3800 being installed in the central accounting office of the North American data center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is the same year where the world witnessed its first inkjet printers.

These new generation printers could handle the operating speed of more than 100 impressions per minute. The first inkjet printer combined the laser technology with electrophotography.

The first xerographic laser printer product was released in the year 1977.

1988 was the year when the inkjet printer finally became a household name.  At this time inkjet became a home consumer item with HP’s Desk Jet inkjet printer. At that time period, you had to pay $1000 to get that printer. Then HP dropped LaserJet 4, which had a resolution of 600 x 600 dots per inch.

Here we see a primary example of technology, on how far we have actually come, from 1800 to the 21st century. Nearly every object ever invented now acts as a foundation of everything that we use now. How an idea so simple of printing on papers changed so many lives in the future.

Types of Printer

Another reason why printers are such an essential device is the sheer variety that they offer to the user. You don’t have to stick to only one, as they are a different model that offers different features on the table.

In this section, we are gonna take a stroll through the different variations of the printers available in the market today. Before we a strong dive into that direction, first we have to know about the types of printers. There are two types of printers that do exactly the same job but by applying a different method.

Each of them follows their own method and has a list of features that is suitable for that style of method. One is called Impact printer and the other one is known as Non-Impact Printer.

While both of them are capable of providing the actual job of printing but the methods are far apart from each other. Let’s take a look at the printer and its types of models available in the market.

What is Printer and Its Types

Impact Printers

An impact printer is a type of printer that hits directly on the surface of the paper. A good example of an impact printer would be Typewriter. As the printing process features the striking mechanism. This mechanism strikes the metal head against the ink ribbon, then the ink ribbon gets pressed against the paper.

Which creates the desired character, dot, line or symbol on the paper. Compared to printers nowadays, impact printers were the old school way of printing. Nonetheless, its impacts can be felt in the printing still today.

Each impact printer has its own style of printing on a paper. So let’s take a dive down the types of impact printers that left a mark in the printing machine history.

Dot-matrix Printer

dot matrix printer
image credit: Wikipedia

This printing machine uses the impact printer method to print illustrations on the paper. Here the printer strikes pins against the ink ribbon to print. When it comes to other printers, Dot-matrix printers are highly expensive.

They can’t deliver high-quality output but they can print multi-page forms faster. Dot-matrix printers are much more productive compared to the laser or inkjet printers. What makes Dot-matrix printers so good. It can be drawn to two reasons.

  • Speed – Some people look to produce more pages on their printer. The Dot-matrix printer provides just that, it has the capability of producing 500 characters per second. There is a different level of dot matrix printer available in the market with a variety of speeds.
  • Quality – As I stated earlier in the explanation of the Dot matrix printer, the dot-matrix printer uses dots to print. The number of pins does matter in this printing system. Normally you would get somewhere between 9 to 24. Having 24 pins will bring more quality picture than anything lesser than that.

Daisy wheel Printer

Daisy wheel Printer
image credit: wikipedia

It is another impact printer machine invented back in 1969 by a man named David S. Lee at Diabo Data Systems. Here it uses a metal or plastic disk that contains all the letters, numbers, and other special characters to print.

When the printing process begins, the printer rotates that metal disk to each letter then uses a hammer strike on each letter into an ink ribbon to create that letter on the paper.

Daisy wheel printers picked up popularity back in the ’70s but eventually, the printer was forgotten because they offer low quality of print at a slower rate while making a loud noise. Not many people were big fans of that.

Line Printer

line printer
image Credit: Wikipedia

The line printer machine is considered a high-speed impact printer in the market. It can print one line at a time, they have the power to print 300 to 3000 lines per minute. Some of the large computers in the world use Line printers. The line printer is further divided into three types, Band printer, Chain printer, and drum printer.

Band Printer

What is Printer and Its Types


Band printer features a metal band to perform the printing process. The metal band inside of the printer would have all the characters installed on it. Back then, band printers were also called belt printers since the use of the metal bands.

When the printing process starts, the band rotates horizontally past the paper, then the hammer at the front strikes the band to print a suitable letter on the paper. Band printers are capable of producing between 300 to 2000 lines per minute. Normally you would see band printers in harsh industrial places because these printers can handle the rough environment of the industrial places.

You can’t change any character of the metal band. Since every character on the band is fixed. You would still see band printers being used on a variety of industrial complexes.

Chain Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

This is more of your typical line printer machine. Chain printer is based on the same mechanics as the line printer, but with chain printers, all the characters are embedded in chains.

Papers are placed between the hammer and the ink chain This printer also uses a hammering technique to print, so expect this machine to make a lot of noise while in the working phrase.

Chain printers can produce 400 to 3000 lines per minute. When it comes to the features, it shares the same technique to band printers.

Drum Printer

Drum Printer
image Credit: Wikipedia

It contains a drum which consists of characters, numbers, with the hammer at the front of the drum to take care of the printing.  The drum has specific characters, the hammering technique that these machines use is very noisy.

Non-Impact Printers

The invention of the Non-impact printer machine brought in the much-needed change in the printing industry. Where the Impact printer had a problem, the non-impact printer solved the issue effectively.

Nowadays everybody uses a Non-impact printer in the office to a large high school. The primary reason why the non-impact printer was such a big hit is due to featuring fewer moving parts as opposed to impact printers. One of the other problems that non-impact printers solve is noise.

Impact printer was noisy, working with one of them was a huge annoying work of time. When it comes to making noise impact printers are always ahead of non-impact printers. That’s why with non-impact printers you will get a much quieter environment.

Because the Non-impact printer didn’t rely on hammering to do the printing process, it relies on lasers. Skipping the physical contact between the hammering and the paper.

Saved time and money for many institutions. This printing machine is what makes a printer a Non-impact printer. When it came out, the idea of printers not following the traditional route of hammering to start the printing process was revolutionary.

Let’s take a look at the variety of non-impact printers available in the market. And what are the changes they bring to the printing system? Here are the non-impact printer and its types that share the same method but with a unique perspective.

Laser Printer

laser printer

The laser printer machine uses the same concept as the dot matrix printer. The idea of using dots to create characters, images on paper. But unlike in the dot matrix printer, where everything was done by making dots on the paper by hard-pressing them.

The photocopier technology uses a beam to make the document on selenium coated drums using electrical charges. Then in the next process, the magnetically charged toner transfers the drum to the paper. These are the most popular printer machines that get used because of the simplicity it carries and it makes higher quality images for both text and graphics. Laser printers are capable of providing resolution up to 1200 dpi.

LCD and LED Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

LED (Light-Emitting Diode) printer machine is part of laser computer printers that use LED to print on paper. In LED printers, a static charge gets applied to the photoreceptive drum, when the light flash from LED hits the drum, the charge gets reversed, creating the desired symbol or text or graphics on the paper.

LCD (Liquid-Crystal-Display) printer is also a type of laser printer, wherein a laser printer uses a laser to create the desired symbol or text on the page. For the printing process, LCD printers use Drums. LCD printers have a liquid crystal panel. The crystal is made of pixels. These pixels act as a gateway for the light, they either let the light pass through them or block it.

Inkjet Printer

inkjet printer

Inkjet printers also create images on the paper using dots. Instead of lasers, the inkjet printer uses sprays to print text or graphics on the paper. It sprays small electrically charged ink droplets from nozzles on to the paper.

Inkjet printers are a much more favorable alternative to the Laser printer because inkjet printers cost less, Inkjet printers are capable of supporting resolutions up to 720dpi. There are expensive variations of inkjet printers that can crank the resolution up to 1200, even 1400 dpi.

Ink Tank Printer

ink tank printer

This is a type of printer machine where you have to use an ink tank to print images on the paper. Of course, here you don’t have to replace the cartridges, you directly supply the ink tank from an ink bottle. The cost of refilling an ink printer is extremely low compared to the alternatives.

Printers have a continuous supply of ink in the ink tank, this has less impact on the cost of printing for each page. This is one of the affordable choices to go for if you are looking forward to buying a printer and you don’t want to spend too much money on the line.

Multifunctional (All in one) Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

The reason why this printer is called multi-functional is that it offers three things at once, these printers can print, copy and scan. Which used to require three different machines to do it.

But now with the multi-functional printer, you can do all of them at once. Having all three in one machine gets the job done at a much faster rate with excellent print speed. Having the option to scan, can send the printed report to anybody via mail. That’s why you mostly see these printer machines in office areas.

PVC Card Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

A PVC card printer is a type of device used for the thermal transfer process to print. In this printing process, the printer uses a plastic surface for color printing. In the PVC Card printer, the sublimation techniques get used for its printing process. Sublimation is when a layer turns into a gas and then reverts back to its solid-state on the outer layer of the plastic card.

That is how this printer transfers a design on to the plastic surface. PVC is a long-lasting plastic that is good for creating or printing ID cards. You probably have seen this PVC card printer at the DMV or in many local photoshops.

Photo Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

A Photo Printer is a type of device used for printing specially designed to create photographs. Normally these photo printers use inkjet or dye sublimation method (Which gets used in the PVC Card printer), and it also uses thermal wax printing to get the job done.

The concept behind the printing process is simple but there are some drawbacks to this machine. One of them being, these printers will make a loud noise at printing black color text. As most of the printing related tasks at office or school include using the black colored text. This further pushes the photo printer to a specific category of demographics.

Portable Printer

What is Printer and Its Types


A Portable Printer machine is a type of device used for traveling because they are smaller in size, so they won’t look like your average printer. And another major thing about portable printers is they are wireless, making them one of the best options to carry anywhere in your house or outside.

Portable printers are generally ink-free. As they rely on the wireless signals to print. Portable printers use ink-less printing technology to print, that’s why they don’t need a single drop of ink to do their job. Inkless printing features a metal pen, this pen writes with a metal alloy. It may have the apprentice of a pencil but it is very long-lasting.

Thermal Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

A thermal printer is a kind of device that uses heat to create the fancied image or text on the paper. The printer machine has three things that everybody expects from a thermal printer. These three things are quality, speed, and technological advancements. That is why many people use thermal printers to do their work.

But mostly you will see these printers in the airline, banking or your retail shops. There is no need for ink in this printer, instead of ink it uses thermal papers to make the text or images on it. The controls are quite simple to get hold on to.


What is Printer and Its Types


The plotter is a computer external device that acts much like a printer but it gets used to create vector graphics. Whereas normal printers use toners to do the printing process, plotter, on the other hand, uses pencil, marker, pen, and any other writing tool to draw multiple lines on the paper than dots that you will in a dot matrix printer.

Although the demographic for the printer is limited. Plotter gets used in computer design areas making blueprints or records of schematics and other applications. They support high resolution and have the capacity to print on a variety of materials.

Flex Printer

What is Printer and Its Types

Flex printer is generally a large scale inkjet printer that can take a bigger size of the material to print. Flex printer gets used to making printing banners and signage.

Flex material is more flexible than vinyl. Any industrial printers can recolonize the flex material. Flex printer machines follow the same method as an inkjet printer.

Normally the stuff that gets produced through the flex printer gets used to create printing banners on outdoor advertising. There is no limitation when it comes to this type of printing since it is powerful enough to deliver high quality and low quality on a large scale material. Though the material can be flex or vinyl.


Now you have all the information that you need about the printer. Having the knowledge of how the newer ones differentiate to the older ones, in terms of efficiency, reliability, and cost. That’s why this article is so important because, in the modern age, technology changes direction at a much faster rate.

It gets very hard to keep with the changes. That’s why keeping up with the information is the best way to stay up to date. The market is flooded with new printers with latest features enabled in them. But if you jump in without knowing anything about it, you will end up losing more money in the buying process. Articles like these are the only source of quick facts that you need to know before stepping into the market to make any purchase.

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